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Diversified miner South32 on Thursday announced record earnings and cash flows for the 2022 financial year ended June.

The company reported a 69% increase in revenue for the 12 months under review, compared with the previous corresponding period, while underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) increased by 156% and underlying earnings by 432%.

Revenue for the full year ending June was reported at $9.26-billion, up from the $5.47-billion reported in the 2021 financial year, with profit after tax reported at $2.6-billion, compared with a loss after tax of $195-million.

Underlying Ebitda for the full year reached $4.75-billion, up from the $1.85-billion last year, while underlying earnings reached $2.6-billion, up from $489-million.

“We delivered record earnings and cash flow in the 2022 financial year as our stable operating performance and recent portfolio improvements enabled us to capitalise on the significant tailwind of commodity prices,” CEO Graham Kerr told shareholders.

“We achieved record production at Worsley Alumina, while Hillside Aluminium and Mozal Aluminium continued to test maximum technical capacity. At Cannington we exceeded production guidance as we transitioned to a new mine configuration, bringing forward higher-grade material and at Cerro Matoso we achieved a 22% increase in nickel production.

“We made significant progress transforming our portfolio, increasing our exposure to the metals critical to a low-carbon future. We added copper to our portfolio through the acquisition of a 45% interest in Sierra Gorda and doubled our low-carbon aluminium capacity with an additional shareholding in the hydro-powered Mozal Aluminium smelter and the restart of our 100% renewable powered Brazil Aluminium smelter.

“At Hermosa, we completed a pre-feasibility study for the zinc-lead-silver Taylor deposit, which demonstrated its potential to be a globally significant producer of base metals, and advanced our study of options for the battery-grade manganese Clark deposit,” Kerr said.

The South32 board has resolved to pay a $648-million fully-franked final dividend for the second half of the financial year and a $139-million fully-franked special dividend, taking shareholder returns to a record $1.3-billion in respect of the 2022 financial year.

“The board has also resolved to further expand our capital management program by $156-million to $2.3-billion, leaving $250-million to be returned to shareholders by September 2023,” Kerr said.

“Looking forward, we are well positioned to navigate the current economic uncertainty. We have a strong balance sheet with net cash of $538-million after funding our new investments during the year, while our ongoing focus on cost management and an expected 14% increase in production will mitigate industry-wide cost inflation. We have repositioned our portfolio toward metals critical for a low-carbon future, having already established a pipeline of high-quality development options.”

South32 will also continue to pursue cost efficiencies, having successfully delivered more than $50-million of annualised savings, since 2020, across the group through the simplification of its functional structures and footprint. This focus combined with an improvement in planned volumes and lower producer currencies is expected to provide partial relief from further upward pressure on operating unit costs in 2023, the miner said, despite continuing industry-wide inflation in raw material input prices, labour and energy.